Thursday, January 14, 2016

Not Why We Are Here

Sunday January 17th is the 5th anniversary of the day we landed in Bulgaria to found the ReachGlobal Sofia City Team.  On Sunday I hope to post a blog about what made us move to Bulgaria and serve in full-time ministry.  Today however, I’m going to post a prologue giving you reasons that had nothing to do with our decision to serve in ministry.  These are the common misconceptions of the ministry worker.

A picture from our home town of Sofia.

Misconception 1: We couldn’t cut it in the work force
Someone once asked my what lucrative career I gave up to serve in ministry.  I responded, “All of them.”  Not to toot my own horn, but I’m of above average intelligence and physically stronger than most.  I could have gone down any number of career paths.  Lawyer, restaurant owner, teacher, water heater installer, mechanic, and countless other professions were available to me.

And not just to me.  Sasha is one of the smartest people I know.  She is fluent in four extant languages and has a degree in an ancient dialect of Greek (she graduated with highest honors).  At the same time, she is a kind and compassionate person.  There is very little that she would not be good at.

Yet with all the choices laid out before us, we both decided to go into ministry where the pay is much less than most other professions.

Misconception 2: We have some hidden agenda
I have heard it said that religious workers all have some secret agenda to attempt to control the lives of other people.  This may be true of some people engaged in spiritual work.  There are undoubtedly people out there who use spiritual beliefs and superstitions to control the lives of others.  Yet we are not among them.

There are people out there who promise wealth if only you buy their magic talisman.  There are people who promise an eternity of sexual relations with young virgins if only you blow yourself up.  There are people who promise health and prosperity if only you send it $19.95 for their magic washcloth that they blessed by praying for it.  There are all kinds of scams that people come up with by promising that the spirit world will bend to your will if only you do the thing they want you to do.

As ministers of the gospel, we offer a message of salvation through Jesus.  This salvation is a free gift.  We do not charge for it or demand certain behaviors.  In fact, we don’t even give the gift out.  It comes from Jesus alone.  All you have to do is accept it.  We get nothing from you, and we don’t force it upon you.  If you don’t want to accept God’s gift of salvation, you are not required to do so.  No one is required to know God.  Though we dearly hope that all do.

Misconception 3: We are seeking personal gain.
There are undoubtedly many people out there who do ministry for some sort of political purpose or to attain some sort of status.  We see men and women calling themselves “reverend” on TV all the time building their own personal brands.  There are commercial pastors and ministry directors who seek to make money off of books they write or seminars they give.  There are even low-level versions of such creatures who may creep into your local church.  You can easily spot such people because they are more interested in what they can gain from you than in what they can invest in you.

Of course, I could tell you that we are not such people, but any of them would say the same thing.  They would tell you that they are just doing what they do with nothing but good intentions.  Many books, seminars, and broadcasts are indeed done for good reasons.  How are you to know that we are not such people?

In our defense on this point I will merely point to the evidence of our ministry.  We live in the corner of Europe in one of the poorest countries on the continent.  We have no teammates, and most people have never heard of us.  If we were in this for personal gain, then we have done a terrible job of gaining anything.

Now that you know why we are not here, the stage has been set for us to tell you why we are here.

Check back soon to find out why.

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